Martin Smith’s Charlie Fry series
By Daisy-May Dowsing
Boy wonder Charlie Fry, is a series of children’s books that follow a young boy named Charlie Fry that has cystic fibrosis. This effects his lungs, and in turn effects his ability to run and play football, something he loves to do. Until one day, Charlie was hit by lighting, and magically got the ability to never miss a goal, no matter what! The Charlie Fry books (of which there are four so far) follow themes that help children understand cystic fibrosis, and how to deal with other disorders and problems in the process.
I got in touch with author Martin Smith, who created these Boy Wonder books, now a best seller series on Amazon since release, to talk about his life with cystic fibrosis, the inspiration for the books and much much more. As of now, the Charlie Fry series has had over 30,000 sales on Amazon, as well as thousands on Kindle, after Smith only set a 300 sale goal- “For some reason, children love the Charlie Fry story.”
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that affects more then 10,000 people in the UK. It is a condition you are born with, and is caused by a faulty gene. It can affect you in different ways, however one of the main ways it affects you is through your lungs. Mucus builds up in the lungs meaning reduced lung function. Martin Smith, and Charlie Fry have this form of cystic fibrosis.
Growing up with cystic fibrosis, and the effects it has on the body, didn’t stop Smith, as when he was told he couldn’t do full time work as a journalist anymore, he used the new found spare time to write books that could help younger generations understand the disorder. In his own words he was “fulfilling a lifetime ambition”. And it seemed that a lot of young people don’t know about the disorder at all, and through the books Smith has fulfilled a lifetime ambition as well as raise awareness about a life threating disorder in an uplifting and positive way.
“Considering the severity of CF, I tend to find few children know anything about it. I go into schools and when I asked who has heard of it, I am often greeted by a wall of silence. It is sad – and should not be like that. The Charlie Fry Series is designed to put CF on their radars.”
As for inspiration, the boy wonder Charlie Fry, was inspired by Smith and his own life with cystic fibrosis – “the little footballer running around my mind for two decades was desperate to come out.” Smith has had problems with his lungs, just like Charlie, his whole life, having part of his lung removed when he was only two. But like Charlie, he persevered on, to do what he really wanted- for Charlie it was to professionally play football, for Smith it was getting his books published, and raise awareness for the cause in the process- “I want children with CF to be inspired. I want them to think they can do anything they want”.
Smith described his experience to me, living with cystic fibrosis: “It is relentless. Medication, nebulizers, physio, exercise. It never stops and neither can you. It is tiring and, at times, you can despair but you can’t give in. I go to one of the country’s leading hospitals – the Royal Brompton in London – and they provide the foundation for allowing me to control my CF. I realise my lungs are precious – and I need to protect them as much as possible if I want to see my daughter grow up.”
Even though cystic fibrosis is the main theme in this series of books, Smith has written them in such a way that can help people with other disorders and problems, such as bullying, which is a large theme in the series, finding it way into all four books published so far (The Football Boy Wonder, The Demon Football Manager, The Magic Football Book, and The Football Spy). Smith stated that “they are written to inspire and help children believe in themselves, regardless of the specific challenges they face.”
Smith works closely with Cystic Fibrosis trust, a charity that raises awareness, raises money, and does amazing research for new and better treatments for people with the condition. Cystic fibrosis trust has a very close dialogue with Smith, he states “I am, after all, one of the people they are trying to help.”
Although this book has had great success and raised a lot of awareness for the disorder, Smith did have his fair share of set backs and obstacles on his way to getting the book out there. He was turned down by multiple publishing houses, before deciding to self-publish through Amazon, since the book has become a success, publishing houses have contacted Smith about the books, but he stated “I am quite happy with Amazon at the moment.” Smith was also set back by his Cystic Fibrosis, however he was determined for it not to stop his success, or his life.
Of course this success didn’t come without help from some credited people in Smiths Charlie Fry team, Alicia Babaee copy edits the books, Richard Wayte does the final proofreading, Brian Amey and Mark Newnham do some of the art work (including the covers). Smith also got some help from Stanwick Primary school, who helped create the character Toby Grace, who is a main character in book 4.
For now, only 4 books are a part of the series- but don’t worry! Another will be released by the end of summer 2017, but sadly this will be the last one in the series. Smith expressed the possibility of a kindle only spin-off series, however this is only an idea at this point. No matter what happens in the new and last book, it will still send a message to “inspire children to believe in themselves in future years”.